We received an interesting e-mail last night pointing us to a blog that details "a car club massacre in 3 parts." According to the writer, a friend and longtime mechanic in Stockbridge has been told he can't fix his friends' cars for free anymore.
Apparently his neighbors are upset with the number of "high end" cars making their way to Jeff, who built a garage at his home to work on his collection of classic cars — and help out any of the many friends he's made who share the same passion. The not-so-friendly neighbors thought the retired mechanic was running a commercial operation and called the building inspector.
Jeff got a cease-and-desist order. The blogger, "Just A Car Geek," accompanied Jeff to the ZBA meeting this past Tuesday along with a bunch of others in their informal car club. The ZBA, he writes, couldn't find anything wrong but still voted to order Jeff to stop doing what he wasn't doing.
While they agreed that everything was on the up and up, they seemed to feel, like the neighbors, that Jeff has too many friends with nice cars. We, the half dozen or so "club members," were too many acquaintances for Jeff to have. By a vote of 4 to 1, the ZBA upheld the cease and desist order. If anyone stops by Jeff's house, they had better not pop the hood on their car for any reason. (Including a jump start, which could be a problem for those with British cars, I suppose.) The city will impose a hefty fine on Jeff if we do.
Jeff, he wrote, is taking the issue to court. Read the whole story, starting with Post 1.
Now, we don't have the neighbors' side of this thing. Maybe there was too much noise, too much traffic. But we'll be first to admit that we've had our cars worked on by friends — in their yards or garages — and been thankful. When your engine starts making some weird noise it's nice to have a friend who'll say, "stop by and I'll take a look at it."
Says "Just A Car Geek":
If this decision is upheld, it's possible you'll see towns trying to pass ordinances and/or bylaws saying that you can't fix or restore your own car in your home garage, let alone help a friend or family member. ... The thought of what the outcome of this case could have on car geeks, collectors, hobbyists, amateur racers, etc., is chilling.
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I am a Stockbridge resident with a passion for cars. I have a garage but I also sometime need to park them on the driveway. I would caution against town ordinances which prohibit or otherwise limit the use of my property to store,wash and clean or otherwise tend to their care.I'm not suggesting a boneyard for cars is OK nor would I condone an unsighthly driveway full of cars in repair mode. Surely there is a common sense approach to this.
Sorta the typical attitude I expect from part time residence people from that place a few hours south. Never mind that it infringes on other person's rights. These people will do whatever it takes (including violating an others civil liberties) to get their way and impose a restriction on another. Far be it from them to actually communicate with their neighbor. Good lord, what ever happened to the pursuit of happiness at your own house?
How many local towns are going to bend to their wishes?
Don't think this could happen to you? Think again. How many of you keep a boat with a blue tarp over it at your driveway? Keep a camper in your back yard? Anyone ever weld up a kids bike in their driveway. Change the oil on your Mom's car? This is what these jamokes in Stockbridge are after. Everyone must cater to their whims evidently.
Hey second home buyers! Your neighbors were probably there first and thats where they LIVE ALL THE TIME!
I have no doubt that the ZBA is made up of full time residents. But it's you guys that are obviously infringing on that home owners rights. So his friends have too many high end cars. Give me (and the rest of the world) a brake! In the end you decide everything is on the up and up, but you impose a restriction on this home owner anyway? Why even have the meeting?
Think about it the next time someone needs a jumpstart after one of your holiday parties.